Beef trade: Some stability restored to the market

There has been little movement in the prices beef factories are offering for steers and heifers. Many have opted to maintain quotes at last week’s levels.

For the most part, factories are offering 390c/kg for steers and 400c/kg for heifers. These quotes exclude Quality Assurance bonus payments.

However, some finishers have noted that buyers are willing to pay 5c/kg on top of the base quotes to secure supplies.

Looking at the cow trade, farmers marketing cows are in a good position this week. Given the strong demand for manufacturing beef, farmers may be able to squeeze an additional 5-10c/kg out of procurement managers when marketing such animals.

However, it must be noted that there is a wide variation in the prices being quoted to farmers. This depends on the location and demand of individual processing plants.

As it stands, buyers are offering 325-330c/kg to purchase P-grade cows. Procurement managers are starting negotiations with farmers for O-grade and R-grade cows at 330c/kg and 350c/kg respectively. Click here for a full breakdown of prices

Cattle throughput

The number of cattle slaughtered in Department of Agriculture approved beef plants during the week ending February 4 was 167 head higher than the previous week.

Of the 34,138 cattle slaughtered during the week ending February 4, over 58% of these animals were steers and heifers. Some 10,434 steers were slaughtered – a decrease of 426 head – and heifer throughput stood at 9,692 head. Young bull, aged bull and cow slaughterings all increased during this period.

Week-on-week beef kill changes (week ending February 4):
  • Young bulls: 5,860 head (+260 head or +4.6%);
  • Bulls: 664 head (+304 head or +84%);
  • Steers: 10,434 head (-426 head or -3.9%);
  • Cows: 7,488 head (+528 head or +7.6%);
  • Heifers: 9,692 head (-499 head or -7.5%);
  • Total: 34,138 head (+167 head or +0.5%).

Britain prices

In Britain, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) reported that – during the week ending February 4 – R4 steers made 370p/kg (417c/kg).

Meanwhile, the average heifer price stood at 406c/kg, while R4 heifers made the equivalent of 417c/kg.

Looking at young bull returns, it was reported that overall prices increased by 3p/kg (3.4c/kg) on the previous week. R3 young bulls made the equivalent of 397c/kg.

Prices were reported to be strong for cull cows during this period. Animals falling into the O-grade category made the equivalent of 301c/kg.


According to the AHDB, the diverging trend between overall prices and the price of those meeting higher specifications suggests that abattoirs are in need of correctly-finished cattle and are willing to pay for those meeting target specifications.